Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Literacy depends on nurture, not nature, education professor says

Date:
November 13, 2013
Source:
University at Buffalo
Summary:
An education professor has sided with the environment in the “nurture vs. nature” debate after his research found that a child’s ability to read depends mostly on where that child is born, rather than on individual qualities.

A University at Buffalo education professor has sided with the environment in the timeless "nurture vs. nature" debate after his research found that a child's ability to read depends mostly on where that child is born, rather than on his or her individual qualities.

"Individual characteristics explain only 9 percent of the differences in children who can read versus those who cannot," says Ming Ming Chiu, lead author of an international study that explains this connection and a professor in the Department of Learning and Instruction in UB's Graduate School of Education.

"In contrast, country differences account for 61 percent and school differences account for 30 percent," Chiu says.

Therefore, he concludes, the country in which a child is born largely determines whether he or she will have at least basic reading skills. It's clearly a case where "nurture" -- the environment and surroundings of the child -- is more important than "nature" -- the child's inherited, individual qualities, according to Chiu.

More than 99 percent of fourth-graders in the Netherlands can read, but only 19 percent of fourth-graders in South Africa can read, Chiu notes.

"Although the richest countries typically have high literacy rates exceeding 97 percent," he says, "some rich countries, such as Qatar and Kuwait, have low literacy rates -- 33 percent and 28 percent, respectively."

The study, "Ecological, Psychological and Cognitive Components of Reading Difficulties: Testing the Component Model of Reading in Fourth-graders Across 38 Countries," analyzed reading test scores of 186,725 fourth-graders from 38 countries, including more than 4,000 children from the U.S. Chiu and co-authors Catherine McBride-Chang of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Dan Lin of the Hong Kong Institute of Education published the study in the winter 2013 issue of the Journal of Learning Disabilities.

The educators used data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Program for International Student Assessment.

Besides showing that the country of origin was a better predictor of reading skills than individual traits, the study also showed that other attributes at the child, school and country levels were all related to reading.

First, girls were more likely than boys to have basic reading skills, Chiu says. Children with greater early-literacy skills, better attitudes about reading or greater self-confidence in their reading ability also were more likely to have strong basic reading skills.

"Children were more likely to have basic reading skills if they were from privileged families, as measured through socioeconomic status, number of books at home and parent attitudes about reading," says Chiu. "Also, children attending schools with better school climate and more resources were more likely to have basic reading skills.

"Our U.S. culture values 'can-do' individualism, but we forget how much depends on being lucky enough to be born in the right place," he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University at Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. M. Chiu, C. McBride-Chang, D. Lin. Ecological, Psychological, and Cognitive Components of Reading Difficulties: Testing the Component Model of Reading in Fourth Graders Across 38 Countries. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 2011; 45 (5): 391 DOI: 10.1177/0022219411431241

Cite This Page:

University at Buffalo. "Literacy depends on nurture, not nature, education professor says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131113152532.htm>.
University at Buffalo. (2013, November 13). Literacy depends on nurture, not nature, education professor says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131113152532.htm
University at Buffalo. "Literacy depends on nurture, not nature, education professor says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131113152532.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) A new study suggests that mixing alcohol with energy drinks makes you want to keep the party going. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins